Using free on line sites to manipulate pictures is common practice in most classrooms and they offer a creative way of representing images and this is what one of my students was doing one afternoon in the ICT suite.
You have probably guessed by now that this recount is going to take a turn for the worse somewhere on this photo manipulation site, and you would be right. Lets just say this student was scrolling through the site looking for an effect to turn his image into a masterpiece when all of a sudden in the recent uploads little thumbnails there were some pictures that contained a lot of beige (think about it...).
It was in this moment that the students made their choice to be amazing digital citizens. The students first action was to close the website from their screen.
The second action was to come and speak to myself and Linda as we were discussing ICT grades at the time. It was not an easy subject for these boys to discuss with the teachers what they saw, however, they had the courage and the sensitivity to talk quietly and state in a clear manner that they saw pictures that were not appropriate for students to see and that they would like us to do something about it. We thanked the boys very much and asked them to continue on with other work that did not involve "that site".
Linda and I instantly went into management mode. We checked the site in order to quickly verify the issue, find the contact information for the site and send the site administrators an email to let them know that their site was not living up to our expectations.
While I was completing this Linda was on the phone to our technician to block the site. Within two minutes we had the site blocked within our school.
Our next step was to talk with the three boys concerned and let them know the steps that we had taken and would be taking in the future. Part of talking with the students was for them to speak with their parents when they got home, about what happened, what they did and what we as the school had done and would be doing in the future. This would not be easy for them, however, we hoped that they would go home and speak with their parents so that the parents would know that their child is able to talk to them about the big things that happen in their life.
That same night I rang all of the parents concerned to let them know about the incident and to really highlight how proud we were as teachers of these students and how they should also be proud of their children. I also wanted to let them know what we had done to ensure the students future on line safety.
While I did call just after 7, I encountered two parents who had not seen their children as yet as the students were at friends houses etc..... The parents were very thankful to be informed and were happy with what we had done to contain the problem.
When speaking to the third parent she had heard about it on the way home in the car from two of the boys and it was nice to get some positive feedback from her about how safe the boys felt when speaking with us and how fast we had actioned their concerns and let them know what we had done about it.
After the event we had feedback from the site thanking us for our email and that they took the site off line to deal with the problem and to put in measure to ensure it would not happen again.
From this I have learnt that while we make every endeavor to ensure the online safety of students at school there maybe times when this might not be the case. It is the continual work that we do with the students about doing the right thing, defining a digital citizen and having great relationships with our students that made the difference on this day. To this day (which is a couple of months after the event) the majority of students do not know what went on in that ICT class that day.
So the next time you read about the students that don't leave a great footprint remember there are students that do make a difference and SMILE....I know I do.